The Miami Heat played a much anticipated game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and came away with the win, 115-104. Miami definitely didn’t have a great shooting night, but Miami’s toughness overcame it behind Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler. Here are my five takeaways…
#1:Goran Dragic begins, Jimmy Butler finishes.
Goran Dragic has pretty much been the Miami Heat’s bubble MVP thus far, since it seems as if he can’t have a bad game scoring the ball. Goran played a huge first half role for Miami, scoring 19 points on 75% shooting. And what was so special about this was that he was able to score at all three levels. He clearly is a three point threat, but really thrived in the mid-range area using his bank-shot floaters. Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, struggled in the first half with the ball in his hands, but got back to Playoff Jimmy status in the second half when he hit big shot after big shot in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 40 points, and went 2 for 2 from beyond the arc. Like I said before, this is officially Jimmy’s time.
#2: Miami forces Milwaukee turnovers, which led to fast-break opportunities.
Miami has been the one team in the NBA that was able to disrupt Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks this season. And though they were unable to disrupt them in the first quarter, they began to force turnover after turnover in the second quarter. Not only did they get a bunch of steals, but every one of those led to a basket on the other end. Some have talked about Miami slowing the game down a bit against this team, but on a night that their offense is struggling, it seemed essential to get the ball and run on the break.
#3: Surprisingly, Miami’s paint work against Milwaukee was utilized more than their perimeter shooting tonight, which will ultimately lead to more threes.
It’s been talked about over and over that Miami’s shooting would look to expose Milwaukee’s drop scheme in the series, since it allows so may threes. But it was actually the complete opposite. Guys like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Goran Dragic were able to attack the basket pretty effectively, which was a great sign for Miami. It did seem as if Milwaukee didn’t drop as much as usual, since they were very aware of Miami’s dribble hand-off scheme, which resulted in Duncan Robinson attempting one shot in the first half. If Miami can get their usual elite shooting going for the rest of the series, along with their penetration abilities, it makes an interesting series.
#4: Bam Adebayo plays much different role than he did in Indiana series.
Bam Adebayo didn’t have much of a scoring role against the Indiana Pacers in the first round, but he had such a huge impact in the series through his play-making and defensive abilities. Today though, he seemed to have a major role on offense around the rim, which as mentioned previously, was not expected since they pack the paint. Bam Adebayo also had the task of guarding (MVP candidate) Giannis Antetokounmpo, which he did as good of a job as you could possibly do against him. Bam also attempted some mid-range jumpers that were given to him, but they didn’t fall. Except for a clutch late game jumper after an exceptional jab step on Marvin Williams. If he can get some jumpers to fall, that not only opens up the floor for him, but also the rest of the team.
#5: Miami must prioritize slowing down Buck’s primary players, including Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Lopez.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez seemed to be Milwaukee’s only source of offense. Their supporting cast didn’t provide much offense, but they didn’t seem to need to at times, since their stars took the whole offensive load and thrived. Brook Lopez was a plus-30 in their three regular season games against Miami this season, and today he provided his scoring side. It’s pretty clear you’re not going to totally stop Giannis, which means it may be of their best interest to shut down Khris Middleton. This is something we saw Miami start to do in the second half, which ultimately helped them. It’ll be interesting to see some other schemes Coach Erik Spoelstra uses against this Milwaukee Bucks team.